THIS DAY IN 1918 IN THERECORD
Saturday, Aug. 31, 1918. One Troy woman is hospitalized and another is in jail after a knife fight breaks out on River Street tonight, the Sunday Budget reports.
Margaret Bailey is recovering at Troy Hospital from three slash wounds, the worst running from the shoulder to the elbow of one arm. Her assailant, Belle Williams, claims to have acted in selfdefense, but “the police do not believe that.”
Williams “has a bad record” and “has figured in trouble often,” according to police and neighborhood sources. She is the “common law wife” of Harry Williams, who unsuccessfully tried to claim exemption from the wartime draft on the basis of their relationship. Belle Williams reportedly attacked him with a knife shortly before he was drafted, and Bailey’s taunting her about their relationship reportedly provoked tonight’s affray.
“The women had been in a resort on River Street frequented by colored people,” the Budget elaborates, “but had gone out to the street in a quarrel…Margaret twitting Belle about her relation to Williams and Belle retorting that Margaret was in the same class.”
Williams flees the fight scene as a patrolman arrives to tend to Bailey. Detectives go to Williams’ home at 186 Church Street to find that “she had there discarded her blood-stained dress and hurried away.” On an apparent hunch, they go to Bailey’s home on Williams Street,
“the last place one would think of her going,” and find Williams changing into some of Bailey’s clothes.
Visit Ends in Jail
As the world war approaches a climax with American troops on the offensive against Germany, xenophobia at home appears to near its peak. All it takes to get a person in trouble with the law, it seems, is to ask for a foreign-language newspaper.
Two Troy policemen are standing at the corner of Broadway and Union streets this afternoon when a man asks them where in town he’d be able to purchase a Russian-language paper.
“They were not able to enlighten him on that subject,” the Budget reports, “but the inquiry was so suggestive of the war that they asked some questions themselves, one being where the inquirer came from, and another whether or not he had a draft registration card upon his person.”
Michael Spanchuwiak claims to be visiting from Trenton, but the native of Russian-ruled Poland has no papers to prove that. Accordingly, the police take him before U.S. Commissioner Clark Cipperly and then take him to jail until they hear back from the Trenton draft board.
The U.S. is not technically at war with the Soviet Union, but American troops are fighting Bolshevik forces on Russia’s Pacific coast.